New Uses for Old Things: 10 Ways to Repurpose Old Items
Editor’s note: If you’ve spent any time at all at sustainablog, you know we love upcycling! So we were happy to accept this guest post from our friends at Home Rehab Online with even more ideas for getting use out of items you might otherwise send to the landfill.
Our landfills are growing by the second — but there’s plenty that we can do to help, while also adding some extra functionality or style in our homes! Find decorating inspiration in these five unique ways to reuse items you already have. Mother Nature will be pleased.
Instead of tossing empty glass wine, beer or soda bottles, take a look at them from a different angle. Many bottles have a beautiful shape or color, and could easily stand alone as decorative vases. For a modern look, consider painting the exterior of a bottle in a color that matches your home décor.
If your bottle has a label, soak it in hot sudsy water (use dishwashing detergent) for 5 or more minutes until the label becomes soft. Gently peel it away; use a scrub brush to remove any leftover residue. Before use, clean the insides of the bottles too — fill ¾ with warm water and a bit of dishwashing liquid. Cover the bottle with your finger or hand and give it a good shake. Rinse until the suds are gone and place upside down on a towel or dish rack to dry.
On a Roll
Empty toilet paper rolls are tossed in the trash faster than you can flush. Give them a new shot at life by using them to organize and store extra cords (the ones you’re not sure what they go to but you’re too afraid to toss them) to keep them from getting tangled. Wind a single cord into each empty paper roll and store side by side, standing up in a shoebox.
Do you have a pile of old books that you can’t bring yourself to get rid of but are just gathering dust? Opt for this unique idea: Purchase shelf brackets that are slightly smaller than the width of your favorite hardback books (from spine to opening). Secure the bracket to the wall and place the book on the bracket to create a decorative shelf. Stagger a few favorite tomes in a cohesive display and top with bud vases or small decorative items.
Do you have an old cutlery tray that no longer has any use? Line the inside of the tray with pretty fabric or paper scraps — or paint it a favorite color. Attach small cabinet knobs and/or tiny hooks within each segment of the tray and use them to hang and organize favorite necklaces, bracelets and earrings.
Mad About Mason
Empty Mason jars have so many reuses you might find yourself overwhelmed with the options. Here are some of our favorites:
- Fill the jar part way with sand or rocks and top with a tea light candle. A grouping of these beauties will provide lovely candlelight for an intimate gathering.
- Use them as single bud vases, grouping three or more together for extra effect.
- Use them as drinking glasses at backyard BBQs — and save the planet from more tossed-aside plastic cups.
- Store useful items such as sewing kits, colored pencils, ribbons, office supplies or any other items you find yourself stashing away in your junk drawer. The clear view allows you to easily see what’s inside so nothing ever feels too lost.
- Create a hanging vase or candle holder: Wrap sturdy wire around the opening of the jar (under a ridge so it’s secure). Then use another piece of wire to wrap through that first wire at two points to create a handle. Hang from a wall or garden hook and fill with flowers or a tea light candle.
Looking for even more ideas? Try these five quick-and-easy reuse ideas for everyday items:
- Turn old picture frames into cute little serving trays.
- Use old shower hooks to hang purses in your closet.
- An old hanging shoe rack can easily organize your pantry. Hang it on the door and separate snacks or spices in the pockets.
- Need more jewelry organization? Use a cupcake tray to hold small items.
- Use large clamp binder clips to keep computer and phone charger cords handy. Clip them to the edge of your desk and pull the cord end through the metal clamp hole.
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Allison Lind of Home Rehab Online is a home decor and home improvement expert who has extensively written on the topics since 2004. For two years, she worked with home improvement celebrity Ty Pennington, of ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.”